Archive | December, 2021

Looking back at the year in blogs

31 Dec

As another challenging year comes to a close, I took a moment the other day to look back through all the blogs I wrote in 2021. It was a fun tour and I was a little surprised by the sheer number: 248. I really thought there’d be fewer than that, given that we were still dealing with the pandemic, schools were still ratcheting up from remote learning and many regularly-scheduled special events were scaled back or postponed entirely.

But it turns out I still had a lot to write about. For that matter, the largest percentage of those blogs were about special events that continued to be held despite COVID, or returned this year after being put on hold in 2020. They included Village events like the Trick-or-Treat Trail, White Christmas, the Family Games nights, Beer Walk, and the holiday summer parade. But several other Webster events also got my attention, including the St. Rita Fiesta, Waterfront Art Festival and the XRX Radio Club Field Day.

I wrote a lot about businesses, especially highlighting the new ones that opened this year despite the pandemic. And there were several of them: Whimsies, Crafty Christy’s Boutique, Village HandWorks, Cobblestone on Main, Polar Freeze, To the Core Pilates and Nourished. I wrote about the new owners at Diamond Collsion, yoga classes at Welch’s Greenhouses and anniversary parties at my two favorite pubs, Barry’s and Knucklehead. I lamented the passing of The Music Store, and explored a long-time village business, Village Mall Video, for the first time.

I spread positive news from our schools about the Webster Marching Band’s Autumn Fanfare and State Championship; the schools’ musicals and dramas, Plank North and Schlegel Elementary Schools’ Tour Around the Lakes; and the creative ways the PTSA found to help the Class of 2021 feel special.

I highlighted local organizations that create the fabric of our community (most of them several times), including the Chorus of the Genesee, Webster Museum, Webster Public Library, Friends of Webster Trails, Miracle Field, the Webster Theater Guild and Bella’s Bumbas.

Then there were all those blogs which I can only characterize as snippets from small-town life, the kinds of simple things and wonderful people that make living in Webster special.

I shared photos of many of our village’s beautiful gardens, charming village porches and Christmas decorations. I told stories about neighbors helping neighbors: the Curtice Park homeowner who hosted a COVID-friendly Easter scavenger hunt for kids; a porch concert on Park Ave.; and the kind person who’s created a wild animal sanctuary on the Hojack Trail. I especially liked giving shout-outs to kids doing great things, like the young artists who created a chalk garden on Baker Street, and the six-year old who sold lemonade on South Ave. to benefit St. Jude’s.

I’ve met many wonderful people through this blog, and shared many of their stories with you. Like “Webster’s Mrs. Claus,” Florence Kinney; Brandon Schafer, the “North Ave. Artist”; and the new director of the Webster Library, Adam Traub.

Finally, I shared some personal stories, and wrote others just for fun (like the recent one about the hit-and-run at the Irondequoit Rec Center).

I got a proclamation for outstanding community service from the Town of Webster in August, and displayed many of my blog photos at the Webster Public Library. I shared both of those accomplishments with you all. I introduced a new website, Afterthoughts, and a few enhancements to my Webster on the Web site, links to local services and a village directory.

And finally, there were the mysteries you worked through with me: Who lost that GoPro in the lake? Who WAS James Carnavale? Who was that man who painted the Holt Rd. sign?


I know a lot of you are still reading this blog, three or more page scrolls down from where it began. I know that because you are the folks who’ve been with me all year.

You’re the reason I write this blog. Because even though I enjoy doing this, it would get pretty old if I thought my words weren’t making a difference.

So thank you all for being faithful readers. I wish you all a very happy, healthy and successful 2022, and I look forward to continuing to spread good news from our hometown.

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A walk down memory lane in honor of Carol Klem

30 Dec

I’ve been thinking a lot about Carol Klem lately.

Last month I posted a blog reminding everyone that November 21 is, and will always be, Carol Klem Day in the Village of Webster. (If you didn’t know Carol, check out the blog to understand what a village treasure she was.)

More recently, I was asked to craft a biography for Carol to be posted on the Webster Museum’s Webster Through the Years page. As I was scrolling through old blogs looking for a photo to accompany that biography, I came across one post that really made me smile.

Those of you who knew Carol and her Village Focus column in the Webster Herald will remember how Carol would pen an epic holiday poem every year, highlighting all of the great Village of Webster people and events she encountered that year. It was always published in the Herald between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

As a writer and blogger myself, I was a huge Carol Klem fan, and I feel blessed to have considered her a good friend before she passed in 2018. I always enjoyed her annual poems and in 2012, they inspired me to write one of my own.

I had emailed her that year to tell her how impressed I was with her latest installment. When she responded, she lamented that since she wrote for the Village of Webster, she couldn’t really include anything about the greater Town of Webster.

Since I was more familiar with the town than the village at that point (I actually was living in North Penfield then) I tried to fill in some of the blanks with a poem of my own.

In memory of Carol Klem, here is that poem (originally posted nine years ago today, Dec. 30, 2012, which is why it’s a bit out of date.)


Last night I tossed and turned in bed,
no visions of sugarplums in MY head.
Carol’s poem I’d just read.
(She does one every year.)

It really was a work of art,
which came directly from the heart,
‘bout the people and places that are a part
of this village we hold so dear.

A role model, Carol is to me.
The Webster village crier is she.
Just like her I want to be
when I grow up (if I do).

But this time she has gone too far.
She has really raised the bar
by adding to her repertoire
an epic poem so sweet and true.

But I will do my very best.
I’ll put my ‘puter to the test,
and till it’s done I will not rest
We’ll see how far it goes.

But unlike Carol, I must say
there absolutely is NO way,
I canNOT, to my great dismay,
name everyone I knows.

Carol has, luckily,
covered the village quite thoroughly.
So the only thing that’s left for me
is to “report” on the rest of the town.

Webster Village, we love you, true,
but there’s much more to our town than you.
There are businesses, people, festivals, too.
The best community, hands down.

Like all our parks (you know the ones),
for picnics, games and playground fun.
There’s even one where kids can run
beneath a spraying whale.

There’s Webster Park to barbecue,
Finn, Ridge and Kent and Empire, too.
There’s Sandbar with its sunset views,
and North Ponds with its biking trail.

The town’s natural beauty does not end there.
There are hiking trails just everywhere.
The Friends keep them in good repair
so we can all enjoy them.

Like Vosburg, Whiting, Gosnell, Finn.
Midnight, Ungar, and Arboretum,
Hojack (where the trains have been),
and Four Mile Creek (the new one).

Even driving can be fun
(If 104 is ever done),
but stay off Ridge Road, everyone
at lunch and dinner time.

Our schools do make us very proud.
By the marching band are people wowed.
School concerts always draw a crowd,
and the musicals are prime.

An open house the Town does host,
a summer party with fireworks,
the Fiesta at St. Rita’s Church,
and Community Arts Day.

At the Aquatic Center you can take a swim.
With ice skates at the arena you’ll skim,
and at the library a good book begin,
while the kids enjoy a puppet play.

You can take a class at the Rec,
buy fruit at Obbie’s Farm Market,
see a movie (like 3-D Shrek!),
then go next door to knock some pins.

Want to get something good to eat?
Webster’s offerings can’t be beat.
Like Bill Gray’s, Hedge’s, Charlie’s, T’s,
then an Abbott’s ice cream for some grins.

And at the head of this great town,
Supervisor Nesbitt can be found,
And the talented staff he keeps around
To keep things running well.

They keep our streets clear when it snows,
their free mulch helps our flowers grow.
They keep sewers clear and police our roads.
(Yes, and tax us for it all…)

Now, I’ve only just begun to list
the great things in Webster that exist.
Many people and places I have missed
in this overly long poem.

But I think that I have proved my case
that Webster is a special place.
I’m glad it’s become MY home base.
(Or, as I call it, “home”).

* * *

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A short silly blog for fun

29 Dec

I happened to be going through some of my past blogs recently, and came across this one, which made me giggle. I thought you might like to see it again — or for the first time. I took the photos one morning last December when I was headed to the old Irondequoit Rec Center on Pinegrove Ave.

We all could use a little laugh right about now as Christmas-time stress compounds the stress we already have thanks to COVID.

So I thought I’d share these images with you, of a scene I came across in Irondequoit last weekend. All I could think was, “Arlo Guthrie told us all about the ‘Thanksgiving Day Massacree.’ How come we haven’t heard anything about this obvious Christmas Day Massacree?”

It got worse when I got to the Rec Center, where I saw clear evidence of a hit-and-run.

Just keep swimming, folks.

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Letters to Santa

25 Dec

Many of you know that I have a direct line to the North Pole. Santa and I are kind of on a first-name basis.

His name is Jim Lockwood, and he’s Webster’s resident head-elf, appearing at functions all over town, in both winter and summer. He’s also been an Eastview Mall Santa for years.

I got to know Santa Jim when I interviewed him for my East Extra column seven years ago. I’ve since come to know him as a kind, generous soul, befitting his alter-ego. He’s appeared many times in my blogs, but perhaps my favorite is from Christmas Day, 2017. Jim had emailed me, offering me a look at several of the letters he had received while working at Eastview. He wrote,

There isn’t anything special in them. It’s just a peek into the hearts, minds and eyes of these precious little children who truly believe in Santa Claus.

It was such a charming blog that I wanted to do it again. Jim was very happy to meet me a few days ago and handed me a bag stuffed with almost a hundred wish lists, thank you notes and drawings that he and an Eastview Sanra colleague had collected earlier in the week.

Some were typed on a computer, others were fill-in-the blank forms that looked like they were done in school. Children used crayons, colored pencils, and markers. Others were neatly printed, others were just scribbles, and several were clearly penned by the parents, with the child adding a drawing or signature. Some lists filled a page or more with dozens of items, others had just one or two. Many had multi-colored words, holiday sketches and portraits of Santa and his elf. (There were several mentions of “Buddy,” whom I imagine is their Elf on the Shelf.)

They asked for a lot of the “hot” toys, like a Nintendo Switch, Paw Patrol characters and Legos. But the sheer variety of requests took me by surprise, everything from Barbies and Squishies to a real F150 truck and a hamster. Several put stars or stickers next to the items they REALLY wanted. Others tried to help Santa by drawing detailed pictures of their favorites AND including prices. Some got really specific (like the children who wished for 11 peacock feathers, a $40 iTunes gift card and $30 worth of Roblox.)

It was so much fun reading some of the things these children wrote, like

  • I want a red firetruck with a ladder. I also want a real Mama kitten and a dog. I need bones for him.  
  • Hi Santa it’s a charm having buddy over it’s so fun finding him
  • dear Santa, I know I’ve been a little nauty I will try to tern it around 
  • (this at the end of a two-page computer-generated list) After that long list, let’s get to the end. Thank you very much for your generosity every year to not only me but to every other kid in the world. We deeply appreciate your thoughtfulness to us.

One 3-year old big sister, asked what her little brother might like from Santa, suggested bottles, food, dinosaurs, parrots, bananas and ice cream.

The one which made really laugh, however, was obviously written by Santa’s co-conspirators, the child’s parents. It read,

Dear Santa,

I have been pretty good for a two year old. Daddy says if I don’t start pooping in the potty he is going to disown me. I’m sure he’s kidding though … I think.

Thank you, Santa Jim, for reminding us what it was like when believing in Santa Claus was one of the best things about Christmas. And Merry Christmas to all my readers. May it bring you simple joys and happiness.

Here are some of those letters and drawings:

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If there’s snow on the ground….

24 Dec

…that means it’s time for the first barefoot snow walk of the year.

I’m posting this today because I know a lot of people expect these photos every year. It’s a tradition handed down for generations from my paternal grandmother (Gia Gia), who originated the challenge about 75 years ago. One day in the dead of winter, she took off her shoes and socks and tromped barefoot in the snow to the far side of her yard and back. It was a distance of perhaps 100 feet each way. Pretty much every year since, my family has been holding annual barefoot snow walks whenever we get together for the holidays.

The photo below is of a Christmas-time snow walk we did in 2018. We called it the “deep freeze” walk because we were experiencing record low temperatures that day.

Even when we don’t get together — and we haven’t been gathering much lately — we still try to find any excuse to carry on the tradition. Like my Gia Gia’s birthday, or my mother’s birthday.

Or the first significant snowfall of the year.

Last year since we didn’t even come close to getting together for Christmas, we actually did an extended family barefoot snow walk via Zoom, which included my children in Cheektowaga and Gates; brothers in Pennsylvania and Connecticut; my sister in Greene (NY); my aunt and uncle in Cape Cod; nephew in Massachusettes; even my cousins in Corning and Arizona (where my cousin Laura put her feet in the pool).

Here’s the video from that craziness:

I hope you and yours can enjoy your family traditions this year. If you do anything particularly fun and crazy, let me know about it!

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Sights and sounds of the season

22 Dec

The Village of Webster is an awesome place to live and work, but every Christmas season, it’s especially magical.

For starters, village homeowners really do a nice job with holiday decorations. Some displays are sparkly and gaudy, others muted and dignified. But together they make for a delightful stroll or slow drive through the streets to admire the spectacle.

I did just that last night, snapping photos of many of my favorites. You’ll see them in the slideshow at the end of this blog.

But something else happens every year (pandemic years excepted) that I think makes our village unique: community caroling.

This week the streets of Webster Village were alive with music as two separate groups strolled through the neighborhoods, caroling at businesses and homes along the way.

The first of the musical meanderings took place Monday night, when Robyn Whittaker, owner of Beyond Cuts salon, hosted almost two dozen friends, business acquaintances and assorted other local residents on her “Christmas Carol Debacle” caroling party. I couldn’t join the festivities this year, but I’m sure the happy group visited plenty of unsuspecting businesses and homes on their trek through the village.

They even stopped at my house, where my husband and I enjoyed a hearty version of “Jingle Bells” (pictured above). It made our evening, as I’m sure it did for many others who enjoyed ther carolers’ music.

Then last night, I joined the Chorus of the Genesee briefly for their annual “Soup & Carol Night.” The Chorus has been hosting this evening of caroling for more than 25 years. This year’s group numbered about 20, who first gathered at the Harmony House to pick up song sheets. After their musical walk through the village, everyone returned for socializing, coffee, cookies, and a selection of delicious homemade soups.

This kind of stuff is really what small-town life is all about.

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An angel in our midst: Florence Kinney, Webster’s “Mrs. Claus”

21 Dec

Christmastime — the time of year everyone’s a little more charitable to one another, a little more patient and little kinder. Food pantry donations increase, Toys for Tots collection bins overflow. Winter clothing drives generate piles of coats, hats and mittens. But then, come the new year, everything pretty much goes back to normal.

For Webster resident Florence Kinney, kindness, compassion and charity don’t stop on December 26. They’re essential facets of her year-round mission to spread Christmas cheer.

Florence Kinney — or as some know her, “Mrs. Claus” — is the driving force behind an unbelievable grassroots ministry, which she calls “Santa’s Workshop,” dedicated to bringing presents to children who might not get many gifts, or anything, for Christmas.

Throughout the year, Florence buys toys for thousands of children to bring happiness and holiday cheer into their lives. It began as a project intended for children who had to spend the holidays in the hospital, but in 32 years since it began, it has grown far beyond that original purpose.

The story about how it all began is rather inspirational.

In December 1989, Florence came across an article in the Democrat and Chronicle about two brothers who were going to be spending their Christmas at Rochester General Hospital. After reading the article, she asked her husband Charles if they could go to the store and just buy one toy truck for each little boy. He agreed; just one toy.

After delivering the trucks to the hospital, something kept nagging at Florence. “It kept building in my mind,” she said. She asked Charles if they could go out and get just a few more. He agreed, again, and they headed out to shop.

They came back with 400 gifts.  

“He was a real patient man,” Florence said.

Naturally, RGH was thrilled with the donations, and spread the word at a meeting they had with other Rochester-area hospital administrators. Florence and Charles’ phone started ringing, but they’d already decided it simply cost too much money to do again.

Then they got a call from a D&C reporter who’d heard what they did at RGH and wanted to come out for an interview. Florence basically told him there’d be no need because they weren’t going to do it anymore.

The following day the reporter phoned again and asked Florence a question she wasn’t expecting.

“Mrs. Kinney,” he asked, “I just wondered, have you and your husband prayed about this? I wish you would because I think you would come up with a different answer.”

“It was a very emotional moment for us,” Florence remembered. She and Charles stood in a corner of their kitchen and prayed.

“Next thing we knew this heat just rose right up from our feet, right through our body. We both started crying our eyes out and I looked at (Charles) and said, ‘This is a calling.'”

Santa’s Workshop for Hospitalized Children began that day, and for more than three decades, has been bringing a litle bit of Christmas cheer to thousands of children each year.

“We didn’t turn anyone down,” Florence said. “I worked three jobs to try to keep it going. But we knew it was a calling.”

Even after her husband Charles passed away in 2003, Florence pressed on. And what began as a effort to bring joy to children at RGH eventually spread to include seven local ministries, plus children affected by natural disasters, and even children in other countries.

“Wherever we’re called, Santa’s Workshop goes,” Florence said.

Every year, multiple “elves” help Florence collect, box up and deliver toys, clothing, books, stuffed animals, trucks, game, puzzles and more. It’s a daunting job; last week’s delivery to RGH alone filled four SUVs.

If Florence ever doubted for a moment that her mission is divinely-driven, the miracles she encounters almost every day in her work are constant reminders. The most recent happened just a few days ago, as she was nearing her goal of providing 4,000 gifts this year.

A few days before the deliveries began, she counted all of the gifts, which filled several rooms of her house. She found she was 77 short of that magic number of 4,000. Just 77 more and she’d be done for the year.

Shortly thereafter, two of her elves came in, clutching seven gifts. Only 70 more to go.

Then, a friend called. “We’re going shopping for the kids,” he told Florence, and took her to Ollie’s. She filled shopping cart after shopping cart with gifts, which her friend then took to the front register and purchased.

She never told him she needed 70 more gifts. Nor was she counting them as she filled the carts. But when she got them home, she took stock again, knowing that she was pretty close.

There were 71 gifts. It was, Florence said, “magical.”

In the last 32 years Florence Kinney has distributed 96,500 gifts, most of which she purchased herself. She hopes to continue the ministry for at least one more year, and reach the unbelievable goal of 100,000 children served. That means only 3,500 more gifts; compared to this year’s 4,000, that should be a breeze. She’s already started purchasing gifts for next year and plans to head out early the day after Christmas to pick up some bargains.

I asked her, if and when she reached that goal, would she really be able to retire?

“The only way I could do it is if God tells me that,” she said. “He called me to it, he’ll call me away from it. I know that in my heart. It will be his decision to make.”

Then she laughed. “At this moment, we are going to try to, though.”

Whatever she decides, Florence Kinney has already created a legacy for which she will long be remembered.

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And now for something completely different…

19 Dec

I’d like to introduce a brand new feature today.

I’m calling it East Extra Afterthoughts, a completely separate blog page where I’m reprinting some of my favorite columns from when I was the Our Towns East Extra columnist for the Democrat and Chronicle.

In seven years, from April 2013 to March 2020, I wrote 350 columns about interesting and inspirational people, places and events from all over northeast Rochester. When the D&C discontinued the Our Towns columns, I was determined that all my hard work would not be lost. So I squirreled away several dozen of my favorites.

Recently, as I looked back through them, I started wondering about many of the people and places I featured. What are the people doing now? Are those businesses still in business? How did COVID affect that annual fundraiser?

Those questions led directly to the creation of East Extra Afterthoughts.

Once a month or so, I’ll post one of my old columns to that page, and provide an interesting (I hope) update on where that story went after its original publication.

Normally I plan to post just an introductory paragraph or two here, then invite you to click through to Afterthoughts for the rest of the story. But for this first installment, I’ll post the entire column and follow-up here. Today, as this is the holiday season, I look back at the American St. Nicholas.

In this column, originally published on Dec. 24, 2017, I interviewed Pittsford resident Richard Brookins, famous all around the country — and world — as the “American St. Nick.”

I picked up this column idea from a notice I saw on the Webster Museum website about a presentation Brookins was giving there on Dec. 9. I got some contact information from the folks at the museum and arranged to meet with him at his Pittsford home.

We sat at his kitchen table and he almost immediately made it clear that he didn’t trust reporters much. He had been interviewed hundreds of times about his experience, and too often found the subsequent articles were filled with inaccuracies.

As it was, every time a column of mine was published, I would worry that I had gotten something wrong or the subject wouldn’t like it. So his warnings made me that much more nervous.

Fortunately, he liked the article very much.

Pittsford WWII veteran brought joy to European village as American St. Nick

Here’s a charming holiday story, about a Christmas gift delivered to the children of war-torn Luxembourg. It’s been told many times, but its simple message of holiday joy deserves recounting.

The story stars Richard Brookins, a 95-year old World War II veteran currently living in Pittsford. Brookins has gained international fame thanks to one day almost 75 years ago, when he forever became known as the “American St. Nick.”

The story begins in December 1944. Private Brookins, then just 22 years old, and his buddies with the 28th Infantry Division had regrouped in Wiltz, Luxembourg, after helping drive out the German army. It was a fairy-tale-beautiful village, but the residents had suffered under the German occupation.

“The Germans just took over their life,” Brookins remembered. “They threw them out of their homes, took their possessions and the houses … They took away all their cultural things.”

The Germans also refused to allow the people to celebrate one of their most treasured holidays: St. Nicholas Day.

After hearing some of these stories from a local resident, Brookins’ friend Harry Stutz came up with the idea of hosting a St. Nicholas Day party for the children of the village. For gifts, the GIs pooled some of candy and gum they regularly received from the government. The cooks made cookies, and the nuns made a cake.

Still, one thing was missing: St. Nicholas himself. Stutz asked Brookins to do the honors.

“All you have to do is walk around, pat the kids on the head, chuck them under the chin, smile at ‘em, that’s all,” Stutz said. So Brookins agreed.  

The nuns provided Brookins with a priest’s surplice (which had to be returned by 4 p.m. for Mass), a bishop’s miter, a broken and taped-up shepherd’s crook and a rope beard.

As St. Nicholas made his rounds, the children sang and performed skits. Not knowing the language, he couldn’t say much, so he just patted them on the head and chucked them under the chin. But that was plenty.

“They just really thought this was St. Nicholas,” Brookins said. “They were speechless.”

That day came and went, and the GIs and townspeople went back to their normal lives. Brookins eventually went home, mostly forgetting about the whole event.

Then in 1977, he received a letter from an official in Wiltz.

“He wanted to have a special activity, and wondered if I could come back and be St. Nicholas.” So that December, he and his family all made the trip back to Luxembourg.

“You couldn’t believe it,” Brookins remembered. “People were standing in line to see this goofy old guy, 55 years old.” To them, “I was America.”

This time, Brookins wore a professionally-made cloak, carried a steel shepherd’s crook painted gold, and sported a much more realistic beard.

“It was really an upgrade,” Brookins said. “I really looked like royalty.”

Brookins has returned to Wiltz to reprise his role seven times since then. Many residents, now in their 80s and 90s, remember when the American St. Nick gave them candy back in 1944.

Wiltz continues to celebrate St. Nicholas Day every year, and is already planning the 75th anniversary of that first visit. Brookins doesn’t bet on being around for that celebration, but several of his family members are already saving up to make the trip.

As often as he’s shared this story, Brookins makes sure to pass off most of the credit.

“I do this in honor of the guys who did all the work, for all of my buddies who aren’t here. They earned it. I didn’t have to do anything but chuck ‘em under the chin and pat ‘em on the head.”

But he added, “I just can’t tell you, as much as I try to, what meaning it has.”

In this image from Dec. 5, 1944, Richard Brookins rides a jeep through Wiltz, Luxembourg in his first of many appearances as St. Nicholas Photo Courtesy the WWII Foundation 

Richard Brookins, the “American St. Nick,” is now 95 years old and lives in Pittsford. 

As it turned out, Brookins wasn’t, in fact, around for the 75th anniversary. He passed away on Oct. 11, 2018, less than a year after my column. He was 96 years old.

The people of Wiltz, Luxembourg still celebrate the story of the American St. Nick every year, and did host a 75th anniversary celebration in 2019. Click here to read more about that, and see a few more photos from the time when some American GIs brought a Christmas miracle to war-torn Luxenbourg.

The anniversary was also commemorated in October of 2019 by the Luxembourg American Cultural Society, located in Belgium, Wisconsin. You can read more about that here.

Finally, click here to check out my new East Extra Afterthoughts page. There’s also a link in the right-hand column on this page. Then watch for more features to come.

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Village hosts holiday scavenger hunt

17 Dec

Here’s another great reason to head into the Village of Webster this last week before Christmas — aside from all of the terrific finds for your last-minute gift needs:

* * * The 2021 Village Holiday Scavenger Hunt * * *

Great prizes from Kittelberger Florist and other village merchants await several lucky winners of this fun and easy scavenger hunt. All you have to do is visit each of the merchants on the list below, and write down the word printed on the Happy Snowman located at each business. Using the words, complete the holiday phrase below, and email your answer to

Entries are due by Wednesday Dec. 22.

Here’s the list of businesses:

  • Beyond Cuts
  • Village Hall
  • Finn’s Automotive
  • Golden Boys Restaurant
  • Jeff’s Computer Service
  • Lattimore Physical Therapy
  • Martino’s Pizzeria
  • Manes Beauty Lounge
  • Nest Things
  • Rubino’s
  • The Savage Chef
  • The North Bee
  • Webster Interiors
  • Webster Museum
  • Yesterday’s Muse
  • The Village Quilt Shoppe
  • Lala of Webster
  • Professional Nutrition at Holistic Health Center

And here’s the mystery phrase:

_ _ _ _ _ _ _    _ _ _ _ _    _ _ _ _    _ _ _    _ _ _ _ _ _    _ _    _ _ _    _ _ _ _  …
_ _ _ _ _    _ _ _    _    _ _ _    _ _    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _    _ _ _ _ _ _ .
_ _ _ _ _    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _!

Good luck!

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“Steel Magnolias” by OFC Creations will feature a rising star from Webster

16 Dec

When OFC Creations Theatre Center in Brighton stages its production of Steel Magnolias in January, Webster residents will see a familiar face onstage.

Natalia Stornello, a junior at Webster Thomas High School, has been cast in the lead role of socialite M’Lynn Eatenton, played by Sally Field in the 1989 movie re-make of the 1987 stage play.

The story is set in a small-town Louisiana hair salon, where a colorful and outspoken group of women gab about their neighbors and town, and have to come to grips with the death of one of their own.

Tackling the character of M’Lynn is just the latest in a long line of theater credits for Natalia. According to her very proud mother Amy, Natalia has been acting since she was six years old, from Schlegel Elementary School through Thomas. She’s also performed with NTID Performing Arts, RIT Players, the Multi-Use Community Cultural Center, and A Magical Journey Through Stages youth theater. Last summer she spent six weeks at Stella Adler’s Acting Studio in New York City.

Natalia has also completed many film projects for RIT film students in their new MAGIC Spell Studios. One of those productions, called Bond, recently won an award at the Buffalo Film Festival.

I sense that this young lady will be one to keep an eye on.

Steel Magolias will be presented at the OFC Creations Theatre Center, 3450 Winton Place, Brighton, in four shows January 14 through 16. General admission tickets are $12 and can be purchased here.

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